Grey’s Anatomy catches Covid-19 – but it’s nothing serious

Season 17, episode 1 review: It’s springtime in Seattle, and Covid has hit like a hurricane

The massively cheesy Grey’s Anatomy

The massively cheesy Grey’s Anatomy

 

The story of the pandemic has in many ways been the story of us all on our couches bingeing our way to oblivion. So it’s strange that TV has been reluctant to explore to the new paradigm through which we are living.

Obviously there are the white-knuckle nightly news bulletins and our audiences with George Lee, solemn translator of the sacred Nphet scriptures. But in terms of small screen drama, Covid has been conspicuous almost entirely through its absence.

That gap in the market has now been filled in engaging and entertaining fashion – by none other that massively cheesy medical drama Grey’s Anatomy (RTÉ2 10.25 pm).

The Seattle-set medical soap is in its 17th year. Long gone are the glory days of Patrick Dempsey’s Dr McDreamy (though don’t be surprised if he makes a dream-like guest appearance this season).

Still, even if you haven’t tuned into the Shonda Rhimes blockbuster in more than a decade, getting up to speed is a cinch. It returns with the standard line-up of earnest, hardworking medics. They’re fantastic at what they do – while obviously having hugely messy personal lives.

And there in the middle, as she has been since the beginning, is Ellen Pompeo’s Dr Meredith Grey. 

Pompeo is a stalwart of Grey’s Anatomy – it is named for her character after all – and never better than in this season opener. It’s spring 2020, and Covid has slammed into Seattle like a hurricane. Hour after hour, patients are dying. The PPE shortfall is a shambles, with Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital receiving a delivery of protective boots but no actual gloves or masks.

And members of the public are accusing one another of spreading the disease by failing to socially distance, leading to an old school punch-up straight out of the A-Team. 

Nobody would suggest Grey’s Anatomy is an accurate portrayal of modern medical care. You also wish the writers would devote as much time to tightening the cheesy dialogue as finding song titles to name episodes after (last season, they referenced Tori Amos’s Silent All This Years – in 2021 it’s The Velvet Underground’s All Tomorrow’s Parties and Sleater-Kinney’s The Centre Won’t Hold). 

However, you can only admire its willingness to face the reality of Covid. The series has its flaws. Yet at least it is prepared to show us the world not as we dimly remember it but as it exists beyond all our front doors.  Where it has gone others will hopefully follow. 

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